This rhubarb and tequila cocktail, made with a rhubarb-blood orange syrup and silver tequila, is perfect for hot summer nights.
Part of the beauty of the elegant—yes, elegant—rhubarb syrup that you first make to create the rhubarb and tequila cocktail is that it yields an ample amount, far more than is required for a lone cocktail. (Mind you, this is no margarita. It’s far more complex.) While we find the melding of rhubarb and tequila to be quite inspired, who’s to say you can’t get a little creative with that leftover syrup and stir a little into sparkling wine? Or, for the kiddies, seltzer. Or spoon it over vanilla ice cream. Or…–Renee Schettler Rossi
Rhubarb and Tequila Cocktail
For the rhubarb syrup
- 4 pounds fresh or frozen rhubarb cut into pieces
- 1 1/3 cups superfine sugar (or just blitz granulated sugar in a blender until finely ground but not powdery)
- 2 cups fresh blood orange juice (from about 10 blood oranges) or regular orange juice (from about 8 oranges)
For the cocktail
- 3 ounces Rhubarb Syrup
- 1 thin slice of orange whether blood orange or navel orange
- Superfine sugar
- 2 ounces tequila preferably silver
Make the rhubarb syrup
- Place the rhubarb and sugar in a deep-sided pot over medium heat and bring to a very gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture ever so gently for about 50 minutes. The rhubarb will exude its juices and although some of them will evaporate, you don’t want the juice to evaporate completely.
- Add the orange juice and simmer gently for 10 more minutes.
- Strain the juice through a fine sieve. It may seem more of a syrup than a juice, and you may need to press on the solids with the back of a spoon to release all the moisture from the rhubarb. That’s perfectly okay.
- Return the strained juice to the pot, bring to a gentle boil, and cook for about 20 minutes, until it’s reduced to a light syrup. Measure the syrup. You should have about 4 cups. If necessary, continue to cook over medium heat until it reduces. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 1 month.
Make the cocktail
- Wet the rim or edge of a glass with a little Rhubarb Syrup or swipe it with a slice of orange. Then dip or roll the rim of the glass in a shallow dish of superfine sugar. Stash the glass in the freezer for as long as you can so it gets at least a little frosty.
- In another glass or a cocktail shaker, mix together the rhubarb syrup and the tequila.
- Fill the sugar-rimmed glass with ice, pour in the cocktail, and drop the orange slice on top. You know what to do from here.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
The rhubarb syrup is versatile and adds a surprising element to a tequila-based cocktail. We had silver tequila on hand and the cocktail results seem very balanced. Stirring definitely works; would not venture into shaking for this drink. The sugared glass is very festive!
I recommend about 5 regular oranges per cup of juice for the syrup—perhaps one or two fewer would work if the oranges are very juicy. Another suggestion for the leftover syrup would be to drizzle it over a strawberry shortcake or to use as part of a sorbet course.
I’d always been drawn to those big pink stalks of rhubarb each spring, but not being a pie-lover, what to do with them? I had to try this. I was skeptical from the beginning. The smell and texture of the melting rhubarb was a little strange, but when I dipped my finger in the almost-finished syrup, I was startled by the taste—as sweet, tart, and fruity as a jolly-rancher candy. I couldn’t wait to mix up the drink. But the viscosity of the syrup (perhaps I cooked it down too long?) made for a cocktail that was heavy and unappealing. I tried again, this time adding a splash of club soda. Perfection!
A dangerously delicious drink, very beautiful to look at, too. Can’t wait to try the leftover syrup in a bellini, over my yogurt, or as a topping for vanilla ice cream.
Originally published July 05, 2020